Morning Digest: Kevin McCarthy has two months to decide if he’ll seek reelection to the House

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

CA-20: Kevin McCarthy's colleagues ousted him as speaker of the House on Tuesday, and if you're like us you have just one question: What's next for California's 20th District?

Ok, even the most hardcore among us may have a few other things on our minds right now, but California's early filing deadline means that McCarthy will have only a little more than two months to decide if he wants to seek a 10th term to the chamber where he was just humiliated. The congressman himself did nothing to dispel speculation that he might retire or resign when he responded to a question about whether he’d stay in office by answering, “I’ll look at that.” 

Candidates have until Dec. 8 to turn in paperwork if they want to compete in the Golden State's March 5 top-two primary, and, because hopefuls can pay a fee rather than submit signatures, major contenders can decide whether they'll run on the final day of qualifying. The state automatically extends the deadline to five days in contests where the incumbent chooses not to file for reelection, so the field might only take shape late if McCarthy doesn't end up running.

The current version of the 20th District, which includes parts of the Bakersfield and Fresno areas, supported Donald Trump 61-36, which makes this the most conservative of any of California's 52 congressional districts. The GOP likewise has a large bench of prospective candidates, and, because this area is so red, it's possible that two Republicans could advance to the general election. McCarthy has always easily prevailed in this area going back to his initial election in 2006, and it remains to be seen if any strong opponents would take him on even in his diminished state.

3Q Fundraising

  • OH-Sen: Bernie Moreno (R): $1 million raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $5 million cash on hand
  • CA-49: Margarita Wilkinson (R): $1 million raised (campaign did not respond to inquiry if this includes self-funding)
  • TX-18: Isaiah Martin (D): $307,000 raised (in 25 days)
  • TX-32: Julie Johnson (D): $300,000 raised


CA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler was sworn in Tuesday to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but she says she's unsure if she wants to enter the top-two primary for a full six-year term. "I have no idea. I genuinely don't know," she told the Los Angeles Times the previous day.

California's filing deadline is Dec. 8, but Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin notes that another important date will pass next week. Democratic candidates have until Oct. 13 to say that they want to compete for the party endorsement at the November convention, and no major candidate will want to pass up the opportunity to be listed by name in a special section of the voter guide that each county sends to all voters. As we've written before, this is a bit like having someone else pay for a mailer to every voter in the state, a real boon in an expensive contest like this one.

Meanwhile, Data Viewpoint finished a poll just before Butler's appointment was announced Sunday that did not include her as an option. It found Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter both advancing past the top-two primary with 19% each as Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee and Republican Eric Early took 6% apiece.

FL-Sen: The Messenger's Marc Caputo reports that businessman Stanley Campbell is interested in seeking the Democratic nomination to take on GOP incumbent Rick Scott even though former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell has emerged as the party's frontrunner. Campbell, who is the brother of 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, has not said anything publicly, though he quietly filed FEC paperwork last week.

Caputo writes that Campbell served in the Navy and went on to form multiple companies, including an artificial intelligence firm whose work helped lead to the 2005 apprehension of serial killer Dennis Rader. Campbell went on to become one of the few African Americans to own a golf course in 2021 when he purchased Martin Downs Golf Club in southeastern Florida's Treasure Coast region.

MI-Sen: Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig confirmed Tuesday that he would seek the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a declaration that comes the year after he was ejected from the 2022 primary ballot for governor of Michigan over fraudulent signatures. "I'm not doing it for ego," said Craig, whose last campaign experience would have humbled almost anyone else.

Protestors disrupted his 2021 kickoff rally for his quest to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and that was just the start of his troubles. Craig's campaign would experience several major shakeups, including the departure of two different campaign managers in less than four months, and it would also draw unfavorable press coverage for heavy spending.

The former chief also lost a high-profile endorsement from Rep. Jack Bergman, a northern Michigan Republican who griped that his former choice ignored his region "in favor of a self proclaimed Detroit-centric approach." Still, polls showed Craig well ahead in the primary as he sought to become the Wolverine State's first Black governor.

Everything changed in May, though, when election authorities disqualified Craig and four other contenders from the ballot after they fell victim to a huge fraudulent signature scandal and failed to turn in enough valid petitions. The former frontrunner decided to forge ahead with a write-in campaign to win the GOP nod, blustering, "I'm going to win." However, Craig instead became an afterthought even before far-right radio commentator Tudor Dixon emerged as the new frontrunner, and he ended up taking all of 2% of the vote.

Craig went on to endorse U.S. Taxpayers Party nominee Donna Brandenburg, who had also been ejected from the Republican primary, saying that Dixon's extreme opposition to abortion rights went too far even for him. (James himself was recorded the previous year responding in the affirmative when asked if he'd stop Democrats "from undoing the law that makes abortion illegal in Michigan.") Whitmer soon won 54-44, with Brandenburg in fourth with just 0.4%.

The former chief launched his new effort weeks after former Rep. Mike Rogers joined the nomination fight, and Craig has already worked to position himself as the Trumpiest candidate. The new contender published a pro-Trump op-ed last month in the far-right Daily Caller, and the GOP's supreme master responded by sharing it on social media.

Rogers, by contrast, has had a bumpier relationship with Trump. While the former congressman briefly served on Trump's 2016 transition team, he told the Washington Post last year that "Trump's time has passed." Rogers, who considered waging his own presidential bid, also said of the Jan. 6 riot, "There is never a time in American democracy when violence accomplishes what you want … It is giving up on our Constitution when you storm the Capitol to try to change an election."

But Rogers, whom multiple outlets say the NRSC recruited to run for the Senate, now seems to have realized that Trump's time very much has not passed for the primary voters who will be determining his fate next year. The former congressman echoed the far-right voices in his party last week in a video proclaiming, "[W]hat we are seeing right now is a politically motivated DOJ waging war against the leading Republican presidential candidate on behalf of President [Joe] Biden." "This is not the mike Rogers i knew," tweeted former Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment after Jan. 6. "How did you fall so far mike?"

The GOP field also includes state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, who struggled to raise money during the first half of the year, and it may swell still further. Former Rep. Peter Meijer, who lost renomination last year after voting for impeachment, formed an exploratory committee just before Labor Day. Wealthy businessman Perry Johnson, who got thrown off the 2022 gubernatorial ballot along with James, also said last week he was considering abandoning his doomed presidential bid to run for the Senate; the Detroit News also reported in August that another rich guy, 2018 primary loser Sandy Pensler, is thinking about another try, and the paper wrote Tuesday that he was still mulling it over.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Elissa Slotkin is the frontrunner in a field that includes actor Hill Harper, who launched his campaign in early July. Observers are waiting to learn if Harper or any of the other contenders raised a credible amount of money during the third quarter of the year or if Slotkin ended September as the only Democrat with enough money to run a serious operation.

UT-Sen: Republican Rep. John Curtis declared that he'd remain in the House rather than run for the Senate in a Deseret News op-ed that was published days after the congressman sounded very likely to seek a promotion. KSL NewsRadio asked him Thursday to rate his likelihood on a scale of one to 10, to which Curtis responded, "It's up there in the nine-plus region."


AL-02: Democratic state Rep. Juandalynn Givan told CBS 42 on Monday that she'd decide within the next two weeks if she'd run for the new 2nd District.

IL-04: Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez, who the Chicago Sun-Times calls "one of the police union's staunchest City Council supporters," announced Tuesday that he'd challenge Rep. Chuy Garcia in the March Democratic primary for this safely blue constituency. Lopez, who the paper adds has a history of "anemic fundraising," previously entered the 2018 race for a previous version of this seat and this year's contest for mayor of Chicago, but he dropped out well before each primary.

Lopez ended up backing wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson for mayor over Garcia, incumbent Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, and several other contenders. Neither Garcia nor Lightfoot ended up advancing past the nonpartisan primary, though, and Lopez supported former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in the general election against Johnson. Garcia, for his part, endorsed fellow progressive Johnson, who went on to pull off a tight win.

PA-08: Businessman Rob Bresnahan, a Republican who Politico says is capable of self-funding, has filed FEC paperwork for a bid against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright.

WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland declared Tuesday that she was joining the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who made national news in July when he reportedly screamed at teenage Senate pages.

Shankland, who was first elected to the legislature in 2012, won reelection in 2020 56-44 as Joe Biden was taking her seat by a smaller 53-45, and she touted herself as a candidate with "a proven track record of not only winning elections but outperforming the top of the ticket in those elections." Van Orden's southwestern Wisconsin constituency is significantly redder turf, though, as Donald Trump took it 51-47.

Shankland joins a nomination contest that includes businesswoman Rebecca Cooke and former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson. Cooke, who took second in last year's primary, announced Tuesday that she'd raised $400,000 during the opening quarter of her new effort.


NH State House: State Rep. Maria Perez announced Monday she was leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent, a move that once again changes the math ahead of a series of upcoming special elections for this closely divided chamber.

Republicans currently hold a 198-196 edge in a 400-member body that includes Perez and two other nonaligned members. The final three seats are vacant, but while Joe Biden carried two of them by double digits, the final one favored Donald Trump 53-45: Voters go to the polls Nov. 7 to fill the bluest of these three constituencies, while the other two specials have not yet been scheduled. However, given how much volatility we've seen in the state House this year, it's anyone's guess what the membership rolls will look like by the time all three of these seats are occupied.

Mayors and County Leaders

Baltimore, MD Mayor: Goucher College's new poll with The Baltimore Banner shows former Mayor Sheila Dixon beating incumbent Brandon Scott 39-27 in the first survey we've seen of the May Democratic primary, with another 23% opting for "some other candidate." That latter group said they preferred Scott over his rival 36-33, though that would be far from enough to make up the deficit. The school also finds Dixon, who resigned in 2010 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families, with a narrow 47-45 favorable rating, which is far better than the 37-53 score that respondents give Scott.

Prosecutors and Sheriffs

Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: Democratic Sheriff Paul Penzone announced Monday that, not only would he not run again in 2024, he would resign in January as the top lawman in America's fourth-largest county. Penzone implied he was quitting because another opportunity had presented itself, saying he wanted to avoid "distractions" during what would have been his final year in office.

State law requires the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to select another Democrat to succeed Penzone even though Republicans enjoy a 4-1 majority on the body. Supervisor Steve Gallardo, who is the only Democrat, tells the Arizona Republic he wants the new sheriff to be an "effective candidate" for next year's race.

Penzone first ran for this post in 2012 against Republican incumbent Joe Arpaio, who had spent decades as one of America's most venal and abusive law enforcement officials, but he lost 51-45. Their rematch four years later went very differently, though, and the department's racial profiling policies against Latinos finally caught up to the sheriff.

That October, just a month before his re-election campaign, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would charge Arpaio with criminal contempt of court for violating a judge's orders to curtail his department's unconstitutional profiling practices. Penzone ended up winning by a lopsided 56-44 even as Donald Trump, who would pardon Arpaio soon after the election, carried the county 48-45.

Penzone went on to secure reelection by that same 56-44 spread against Jerry Sheridan, a former Arpaio chief deputy who had just beaten his old boss in the primary, but the department still has a long way to go to excise Arpaio's legacy. Raul Piña, who serves on the court-appointed Community Advisory Board, told the Republic on Monday that "institutional racism in the Sheriff's Office" persists. Piña, while acknowledging that Penzone had made much-needed changes, said of the incumbent's legacy, "[T]here will always be an asterisk … because the racial profiling continued, and you can't run away from that."

Democratic elected officials were more complimentary, with Secretary of State Adrian Fontes saying, "Even on the hardest days when there were very serious threats being hurled at me and my staff, I always felt safe knowing Paul and his team were always watching out for us."

Ad Roundup

James Comer is vowing to press ahead with the impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden even after Kevin McCarthy lost his speakership

House Oversight Chair Rep. James Comer is vowing the ouster of Kevin McCarthy won't impact his impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

"We're gonna continue to read emails, text messages, put together timelines, try to get people to come in," Comer (R-Ky.) told reporters late Tuesday. "We're gonna keep working like we've been working and continuing to follow the money."

Asked if he believed the committee could legally continue its work without an elected speaker, Comer replied: "I think we can."

That's not to say House Republicans are entirely on the same page. Ways and Means Chair Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) said in a statement that McCarthy's exit "will stall and setback efforts to hold President Biden accountable for his involvement in his family’s business dealings."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the leader of the push for McCarthy's ouster, hammered the impeachment inquiry in floor remarks ahead of the vote: "It’s hard to make the argument that oversight is the reason to continue when it sort of looks like failure theater."

Posted in Uncategorized

What does McCarthy’s removal mean for Biden investigations, daily functioning of the House? Experts weigh in

EXCLUSIVE: Academics and experts with in-depth knowledge on how the U.S. government operates told Fox News Digital that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's, R-Calif., removal from his post on Tuesday would likely not prevent the chamber from continuing to function, which includes the investigations into the Biden family and the impeachment inquiry against President Biden.

"There's nothing that requires committees to slow down their activities, so there's no reason why the Hunter Biden investigation or the impeachment-related investigation conducted on a joint committee basis would have to slow down," said Steven S. Smith, a professor at the Arizona State University School of Politics & Global Affairs.

Smith went on to say that "not a whole lot" would happen with the investigations in the span of a week anyway, assuming the search for a new permanent speaker to replace McCarthy and take over for Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry swiftly concludes.


"Of course, members are going to be distracted. So maybe some meetings are going to be called off because members are worrying about electing a speaker for the time being. If it goes longer than the end of next week, then I think there's going to be some serious issues about how they proceed," he added.

Mark Harkins and Joseph Huder, both senior fellows at The Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. agreed with Smith.

"Today's event was historic. It was huge, but effectively it changed nothing," Huder told Fox. "The House has its rules, it's got committees, they're all empowered to do investigations, they're empowered to subpoena, to take witness testimony. The speaker, as the speaker pro tempore, has the powers of the speakership, and until he is reined in by his majority, he can use those as freely as the previous speaker."


"All of the kind of institutional mechanics at the House level operate just the same as they were. They're in place, and they're not going to change just because there's no speaker. What does change are some of the politics behind the scenes, and that's where it gets very murky about what Mr. McHenry can and cannot do," Huder added.

Harkins explained that the difference between January – when the House was at a standstill prior to McCarthy's election as speaker – and now is that the rules of the House have been established and there is somebody actually acting as speaker.

"So the committees can continue their operations. There's no change there. The only possible minor change that could happen that doesn't have to do with the Biden family investigations is that the Financial Services Committee, which Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry is the chair of, may pass off to somebody else as a chair for the interim," Harkins said. 


"There's nothing that needs to stop the chairs of the various committees doing investigations, whether it's Oversight or Ways and Means or Judiciary, from continuing to do their work and continuing to have public hearings. So that's the biggest difference," he added.

Clint Brown, the Heritage Foundation's vice president of government relations, agreed, but told Fox the main focus of the House would be to "quickly try to settle the question of speaker."

"They'll be focused on that, at least initially. It's a tough issue to resolve. It's going to require a lot of agreement. Failing agreement early on, the chairmen are still chairmen, the rest of the elected House leadership is still elected, including the whip and the majority leader. The majority leader schedules votes on the floor. The House can continue to function if it needs to under a speaker pro tempore," he said.

McCarthy was removed from his short-lived speakership by a narrow 216-210 vote on Tuesday, with eight Republicans joining all Democrats in voting in favor of the motion to vacate that was introduced late Monday by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

According to U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., the GOP conference's plan was to have a candidate forum on Tuesday then a vote on Wednesday to decide who would succeed McCarthy.

The rudderless GOP careens toward 2024

There’s no House speaker, Republicans are tearing each other to shreds over Kevin McCarthy's ouster and another shutdown deadline is less than six weeks away — with no leader in a strong enough position to guide the party through.

The history-making spectacle that played out on the House floor Tuesday amounted to “stepping on a rake" heading into an election year, as one Republican lawmaker put it.

Asked how voters are viewing the party's speakership debacle, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) offered a guess: “Are you guys nuts?” she said. “That’s what they are thinking.”

McCarthy’s loss to eight rebel Republicans is the latest and most acute example of a party now so wracked by division that it cannot govern itself. The GOP's tiny House majority and poor communication across the Capitol has rendered it feeble. Outside Congress, the party’s presidential frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, spent the day in court.

McCarthy’s undoing leaves the only part of government Republicans control rudderless, making it harder to operate day-to-day, let alone tackle big challenges. Without a speaker, the House has no clear path through next month's upcoming government funding fight and no one to orchestrate a strategy against the White House.

“It’s one thing to burn the building down,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “It’s another to put it back together.”

The longer the disarray drags on, the tougher next year's elections may become. Several battleground-seat incumbents openly acknowledged on Tuesday that Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) successful drive to boot McCarthy “weakens our position,” in the words of one of them, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.).

And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can’t necessarily fill the void. After facing his first leadership challenge last fall, he is often at odds over strategy with the 10 Republican senators who opposed him; he's also faced health issues and speculation about both his future and the Senate GOP's. While not always aligned with McCarthy, he said Tuesday that he was “pulling for him.”

McCarthy’s undoing leaves the only part of government Republicans control rudderless, making it harder to operate day-to-day, let alone tackle big challenges.

Steven Law, who runs the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, acknowledged the blow that McCarthy's fall dealt to the entire GOP: “What the Gaetz crowd doesn’t get — and they may not care — is that you can’t beat a nearly senile president with a completely dysfunctional party,” Law said.

Even following through on modest legislative efforts, like allowing the Biden administration to transfer assets to Ukraine, will prove impossible in the coming days because the House was sent packing for a full week after McCarthy’s defeat.

The vast majority of the party's lawmakers in both the House and Senate tried to prevent this situation. Some told themselves they had improved their collaboration, with rank-and-file senators like Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) stepping in to help McCarthy avoid a shutdown.

At the heart of Republicans' agita is the sense that an uncontrollable faction of their party is suddenly in charge. Gaetz and his disciples barrel ahead without a clear set of demands. And House conservatives disdained McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes for much of anything, even though Democrats control the Senate and White House.

But the next GOP speaker, whomever he or she is, will almost certainly have to rely on Democrats to fund the government given the antipathy on the right for stopgap spending bills. Republican hopes that House control could lead to big policy wins are close to dashed.

"The Speaker's office is vacated, which means there is no border security. There are no spending cuts,” lamented Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.). And, he added, “There is no impeachment inquiry" into President Joe Biden.

Without major changes, the next speaker will face the same massive procedural obstacles as McCarthy — and remain vulnerable to a rebellion from a handful of members from one corner of the conference.

His successor might have to start from the ground up, too, on weighty issues like Ukraine aid and border security that Republicans had hoped could underpin the next round of spending talks with Biden. Ultraconservative Republicans like Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) are working with Senate Republicans on a border bill that now seems unlikely to reach the House floor in the near future.

“It’s a big mistake. This country’s got a lot of problems that need to be solved,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the most senior GOP senator and a former House member.

Now the House is headed for a six-week stretch of bickering over internal politics as deadlines approach.

“Everything stops,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.). “It’s detrimental to everything.”

What’s more, Republicans are heading into a 2024 campaign with small margins for error.

The race between Biden and Trump, should the former president finish his romp to the GOP nomination, appears close. Republicans need to flip just two Senate seats on a favorable map to gain the majority. In the House, Republicans’ shaky control is built on 18 GOP members representing districts that Biden carried in 2020.

One of those Biden-seat Republicans, Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), said the party's mudslinging “doesn’t help one bit” when it comes to keeping his seat.

“This here is a sideshow that is sad to watch,” Valadao said, fuming that Gaetz and others were “basically just tearing us apart and causing division” — perhaps mostly for fundraising purposes.

McCarthy waited for years to be speaker, amassing a well-oiled political operation that brings in tens of millions of dollars annually for both the House GOP campaign arm and the Congressional Leadership Fund, his allied super PAC. That PAC spent more than $250 million last cycle to elect House Republicans.

A change at the top makes that much less assured.

Dan Conston, president of the McCarthy-linked super PAC, issued a warning to that effect shortly before the Californian announced he would not run again for speaker: “Speaker McCarthy has fundamentally altered House elections for Republicans through his recruitment efforts and his unmatched fundraising prowess and ability to inspire and generate confidence among donors."

McCarthy’s dismissal also imperils the triage some in the GOP are performing behind the scenes to get Republicans on the same page. The stopgap spending plan that lacked Ukraine funding but included disaster aid marked a relatively unified position for Republicans when it passed this weekend.

“Since I’ve been up here, I haven’t seen the House and Senate Republican side work with each other. What we did on Saturday is, we made a conscious decision that we are going to work with Kevin McCarthy,” Scott said.

Just days later, it’s back to the drawing board. There's more than a year left before the next election, and Republicans' dreams that the GOP takeover of the House could help lead them back to full control of Washington may still come to pass.

But Tuesday was about as big a setback as some of them could have imagined.

“It hurts our own party going into November next year,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said. “It’s a disgrace.”

Caitlin Emma and Eleanor Mueller contributed to this report.

Posted in Uncategorized

Evening Brief: Breaking Point—McCarthy out, Trump on the edge

The cold war between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and nihilist Freedom Caucus Rep. Matt Gaetz finally turned hot today, as the two faced off in an ouster vote.

McCarthy lost.

Democrats made it clear early in the day that they wouldn’t bail out McCarthy, pointing to his actions on Jan. 6, his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago post-insurrection, his attempts to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, his sham Biden impeachment inquiry, his reneging on debt-limit deal, and his actions on national TV this past weekend, claiming Democrats wanted to shut down the government.

With McCarthy ousted (for now), we are in uncharted territory. Here’s what could happen. Unhappy House Republicans are reportedly already talking about expelling Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy, so it would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That would be bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continued his unhinged tirades from a New York courtroom, where he continued to cry about the lack of jury trial. (His lawyers specifically didn’t request one. Was that a hilarious screwup, or was it done on purpose?) Trump also bizarrely claimed a courtroom clerk was Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend,” leading the judge to issue a gag order on Trump. Shockingly, Trump seems to have backed down! He removed the offending social media post, offering a good lesson to all the other judges in all the other Trump cases on how to handle his volatile theatrics. Separately, the judge had to clarify that Trump’s claims of an important courtroom win were false. Trump isn’t winning anything at the moment.

Other Top Stories:

Blistering statement from Trump's former White House chief of staff is perfect 2024 Biden attack ad

Hannity shows that when a Republican makes an accusation, it's a confession

A shutdown was averted. So what happens now?

Butler sworn in as third Black female senator in US history, replaces late California Sen. Feinstein

Tennessee woman harmed by abortion ban to run for state House

Watch AOC slam conservatives on immigration: 'No solutions here. No ideas here'

Fox News host suggests ‘Biden and his boys’ framed Sen. Menendez to, uh, sell jets

I've asked this before and I'll likely ask it again, but can anyone figure out what the hell Fox host Jesse Watters is going on about this time?

JESSE WATTERS (HOST): Primetime finally figured out why gold bar-Bob Menendez is being taken out. The president of Turkey, Erdogan, wanted to buy F-16s from us, but gold bar-Bob, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put a hold on the jets. And now that the hold is lifted, Turkey's on an F-16 shopping spree.

Erdogan admitted it, saying this: "One of our most important problems regarding the F-16s were the activities of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez against our country." But it wasn't just a $20 billion sale that cleared, Turkey was holding up Sweden's application to NATO until they got their F-16s. And now that gold bar-Bob's gone, Turkey gets their jets, Sweden gets its NATO membership. Look how nicely things fall into place for Biden and his boys, when two gold bars are found in a Senator's house. Eh, it's probably a conspiracy theory.

That's the Media Matters transcription from Fox News' Oct. 2 broadcast of “Jesse Watters Primetime,” the program that replaced Tucker Carlson's show after Tucker got too big for his conspiracy britches and had to be sent to a farm upstate. And yes, there are elements of actual news stories rattling around in there. Now-indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez did indeed use his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee to block the sale of F-16 jets to ostensible NATO ally Turkey, a hold that Menendez based on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's stonewalling of Sweden's NATO membership, "aggression against [Turkey's] neighbors," and dismal human rights record. It’s worth noting that the committee’s new chair, Sen. Ben Cardin, seems to be in no hurry to lift the block.

Erdogan was nearly giddy about Menendez's indictment, saying last week that his removal from the chairmanship "gives us an advantage."

From these facts, we get a Watters snowball of speculation that even he has to pass off as a conspiracy theory, though only after lodging it inside Fox News viewers' gullible heads. So President Joe Biden "and his boys" get things to fall into place by, uh, planting gold bars in a senator's house? Biden and his boys got Menendez "taken out," framing a Democratic senator for acts of corruption because, uh, Turkey really wanted those jets?

What the airborne monkey heck are you going on about, Jesse? Is it your genuine premise that an innocent and hapless Menendez was taken down by the Biden regime for offending Turkey's would-be strongman or for holding up a big defense contract?

Have you been guzzling any off-brand cough medicine lately, buddy?

Alas, this is par for the course for Fox News primetime hours and is one of the reasons why as far back as 20 years ago, studies concluded that watching the network somehow made viewers even less informed about the news than people who watched no news at all. The reason Watters was pushed into the primetime slot vacated by Carlson was because he best matched Carlson's own brand of flagrant racism and bizarre conspiracies, providing Fox with the best chance of keeping Carlson's viewers glued to their TVs.

Campaign Action

You would definitely be less informed after watching Watters’ latest rant. Turkey has not gotten its jets. Sweden is not yet a NATO member (though Turkey did relent on its opposition), and Turkey's "shopping spree" doesn't consist of anything more than wanting the jets they originally ordered. If this is a conspiracy by the so-called Biden crime family to dispose of a senator who was being too mean to Tayyip Erdogan, of all people, they may have to smuggle gold bars into a lot of other senators' houses.

The Menendez indictment has highlighted the conservative movement’s disbelief that anyone would want to prosecute felonies committed by "important" people. Watters and other conservative pundits appear to be totally flummoxed by the thought that prosecutors would indict someone not for political reasons but instead because doing crimes is illegal even if you're wearing a flag pin and proclaiming yourself above such laws. Instead, they speculate, Menendez must only have been indicted because he was getting in the way of international arms deals or because the Justice Department needed to frame an important Democrat for committing crimes so that their indictments of Donald Trump for committing other crimes would look more legitimate.

That's led to Republicans either clamming up or actively defending Menendez, even as a majority of Democratic senators have demanded his resignation.

Republican lawmakers launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden as an evidence-free act of retaliation against Democrats for impeaching Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 coup attempt and other corruption. It's already clear they don't consider the rule of law to be anything but a tool to be used against political enemies, one to be hidden away again whenever one of their own gets caught doing a crime (or 10).

All of that said, Watters will likely get into huge trouble on this one from the higher-ups, and not for the reasons you might think. Watters is mocking Menendez as a goldbug, calling him "Gold Bar Bob," but precious-metals companies prodding conservatives into hoarding overpriced gold and silver are some of Fox News' most reliable remaining advertisers. Jesse is making fun of the network's most-valued viewers here, and you know network bigwigs aren't going to let that one stand.


Daily Kos calls on Bob Menendez to resign, endorses Andy Kim for Senate

If Fox's Jesse Watters had his way, this coming weekend's climate activists would be 'run over'

Fox News' Watters says 'A lot of people get hit with hammers' in response to Pelosi assault

House Democrats celebrate Republican chaos after helping GOP rebels oust speaker McCarthy

Some House Democrats celebrated the motion to vacate Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the House, while others described it as a "solemn" day in America.

All 208 House Democrats who were present voted to oust McCarthy Tuesday afternoon. Five Republican votes were needed to boot McCarthy, and eight ultimately voted with Democrats to put the nail in the coffin.

"This is a solemn day in the U.S. House of Representatives," Democratic Whip Katherine Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "Through his duplicitous misuse of power, profound disregard for the needs of the American people, and disloyalty to anyone but himself, Kevin McCarthy has proven unworthy of presiding over the House."

She added: "But the Republican civil war is bigger than one man. Right-wing MAGA extremism has enveloped the Republican Party and taken over the business of the People’s House."


House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., echoed the sentiment, deeming the vote a "solemn" moment in America.

"House Democrats will continue to put people over politics and work together in a bipartisan way to make life better for everyday Americans. It is our hope that traditional Republicans will walk away from MAGA extremism and join us in partnership for the good of the country," he said.

"Republicans, you’re welcome to join us and vote for Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker of the House," Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a progressive "squad" member said on X.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., another member of the squad, called McCarthy a "threat to our democracy" in a lengthy statement posted to X.

"He literally voted to overturn the 2020 election results, overthrow the duly elected President, and did nothing to discourage his Members from doing the same," Omar said of McCarthy. 


Omar added McCarthy is a "weak politician."

Rep. Chuey Garcia, D-Chicago, also said on X he has "no interest in bailing out Team Extreme."

Hardline conservatives and progressive Democrats locked arms across the aisle to seal the deal on Tuesday, as the vote to vacate commenced after an hour of passionate debate with McCarthy supporters and dissenters.

Both parties pointed fingers at McCarthy, as Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing him of breaking the promises he made to win the speaker's gavel in January. Meanwhile, Democrats condemned his "lack of interest in bipartisanship" and Republicans jabbing his failure to pass a government spending patch with additional border security provisions and not enough budget cuts. 

Democrat Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey said McCarthy "empowered right wing extremists" and "consistently broke his word."

"Instead, Mr. McCarthy empowered right-wing extremists at every turn - bringing us to the brink of defaults and shutdowns, failing to uphold the debt-ceiling agreement he made with the President, relentlessly attacking women's reproductive freedom, blocking votes to prevent gun violence, and launching a baseless impeachment inquiry built on lies and conspiracy theories," she said.


Democrats signaled early on Tuesday that they would not be inclined to help McCarthy. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said before the vote: "Democrats are ready to find bipartisan common ground. Our extreme colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. They must find a way to end the House Republican Civil War."

In January, it took 15 rounds of voting until McCarthy was elected.

McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open for 45 days, in order to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.

Fox News' Liz Elkind contributed to this report. 

Republicans ditch McCarthy, first speaker ousted in American history

Holy crap, did we really just watch that happen? In a historic first, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to oust the speaker via a vote of the chamber. In the past, endangered speakers like Paul Ryan and John Boehner opted to quit or not run for reelection rather than face the ignominy of losing a vote by their peers.

But not former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who dared rebel Rep. Matt Gaetz to oust him. As “The Wire’s” Omar Little said, “You come at the king, you best not miss,” and Gaetz’s aim was true. With the help of gleeful Democrats, happy to pay McCarthy back for a legitimate list of grievances, McCarthy narrowly lost the vote 216-210, two votes more than the magic number of 214. It was only the second time in American history such a vote was attempted, and the first time it was successful.

This is, in the end, the ultimate Leopards Ate Face story.

It was clear from the very beginning of this House term that the Freedom Caucus was a nihilist group intent on tearing down the institution. They were ungovernable from the beginning, yet McCarthy, in a Faustian bargain, surrendered to them in order to achieve his big dream of holding the speaker’s gavel. And he did! He even got to stand behind President Joe Biden for a single State of the Union. But in the end, all it bought him was a historic humiliation.

Was it worth it, Kevin?

We are now in uncharted territory. Joan McCarter wrote about what could happen next.

One likely outcome is a vengeful effort by the majority of House Republicans to expel Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy. It would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That’s bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

Campaign Action

But before we get there, Republicans will need to figure out how to elect a new speaker. Will McCarthy make another attempt? He certainly can’t do it with Republican votes, and if he didn’t cut a deal with Democrats to save his skin on Tuesday, why would he do so to get elected a second time? Is there another Republican that can unite the two Republican factions that clearly loathe each other?

Given the slim Republican majority, can Democrats somehow engineer a coup, getting Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries elected speaker with the assistance of rebel Republicans? Over two dozen Republicans represent Biden-won districts. They wouldn’t even have to vote for Jeffries; they could just be unavailable for a day.

Jeffries is clearly open to the possibilities, as his latest statement shows

And heck, it’s clear that the Freedom Caucus longs to be in the minority. Their grift is so much more effective when facing off against a Democratic speaker, and as a bonus to the racist MAGA base, Jeffries is Black. They can raise a ton of money off being in the minority. It might literally benefit them to engineer a Jeffries speakership.

As for McCarthy, good riddance. Republicans are unable to take responsibility for their own actions, so the likes of former Rep. Tom Cole, Rep. Patrick McHenry, and Republican operative Brendan Buck were sure to claim it was Democrats that were sending our nation into turmoil because they wouldn’t bail McCarthy out. Democrats had no reason to help McCarthy, and he never offered them a deal to protect him. It’s always someone else’s fault with them!

Still, all Democrats had to do was point to McCarthy’s actions on Jan. 6, and his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago days later, at a time when Trump was at his most politically vulnerable. McCarthy worked tirelessly to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, and he’s been complicit in the sham Biden impeachment inquiry—ironically designed to placate the same Republican nihilist caucus that ultimately ousted him. McCarthy also reneged on the debt-limit deal he made with Biden earlier in the year, and this weekend, he went on national TV to blame Democrats for wanting to shut down the government.

McCarthy is a pathetic man, groveling to the worst of his party, all in the raw pursuit of power. And in the end, he got exactly what everyone expected.